Q. Can the therapist read my mind?
No, if we could, we would be worth a fortune!!
question simply indicates how vulnerable people often feel when
engaging in therapy. It often takes time to develop a therapeutic
relationship but therapists are aware of this and work hard to accommodate
and allay such anxieties. To entrust one’s innermost thoughts
and feelings to a relative stranger is no easy task, particularly
as it could well be the first occasion the person has revealed such
things to anyone, let alone “the stranger”.
2. Q. What will they do to me?
with the client’s assistance, a lot can be done together,
in terms of understanding apparently insurmountable problems and
employing techniques to address and hopefully resolve them. Psychological
therapy is a non-invasive treatment approach. It involves talking
and often task setting but nothing is done directly to the client.
3. Q. Who will know I am in therapy?
No-one other than the person who referred you unless you give permission
the widespread availability of psychological therapy nowadays, it
is true to say that it still carries something of a stigma, with
some people thinking that you only need such help if you are “mad”.
Consequently, clients often worry a lot about the issue of confidentiality.
Such issues are addressed at the very beginning. Therapists are
very aware of how important such issues are for the client, and
establishing the boundaries of confidentiality is one of the cornerstones
in building a therapeutic relationship.
it can be important to obtain permission to inform others of therapy
(such as the client’s GP) if, for example, problems arise
that can not be contained within the private therapy setting. There
may be very rare occasions where the therapist is professionally
bound to inform others, however, in situations where serious risk
is believed likely to either the client’s life or that of
4. Q. Will I have to lie on a couch?
therapy is conducted through face-to-face contact. It is only with
the more traditional analytic approaches to therapy that a couch
is normally used. However, you might be asked to lie down if you
are being taught relaxation techniques but this can also be done
while sitting comfortably in a chair.
5. Q. Will I have to talk about my childhood?
This is unlikely.
is a focussed approach, aimed at relief of current psychological
symptoms and dysfunctional thought processes about current problems
rather than those relating to childhood. However, sometimes it can
be relevant to talk about past events, for example to fully understand
the client’s thoughts associated with a traumatic event.
6. Q. Will therapy make me feel worse?
Yes, sometimes in the early stages of therapy feelings bought to
the forefront of your mind can leave you feeling worse for a while.
This does not go on for long however, and as therapy continues,
such distress will reduce.
likelihood is that therapy will assist and in many cases, resolve
psychological difficulties. However, in the early stages of the
process, clients may experience an intensification of symptoms.
This is normal because they will often be addressing a problem that
they have been avoiding for a long time. This is particularly true
of Phobias. However, the therapist will help the client to confront
their psychological difficulties in a relatively safe and secure
manner, offering effective psychological techniques to confront
7. Q. How often will I have to attend?
This can vary.
of sessions will depend on the amount of progress you make but in
the early stages, sessions are typically on a weekly or at least
fortnightly basis. Once the principles have been explained and progress
is being made, the time between sessions may be extended, in order
to give time to complete “homework” tasks, in which
you put the psychological principles into practice.
8. Q. Will I have to take pills?
A. No. Psychotropic medication (i.e. pills
prescribed to assist with mental health problems) is not the domain
of a psychological therapist.
sometimes the therapist may recommend that the client discuss with
their GP the short-term use of medication to reduce anxiety or raise
mood levels so that they are better able to fully engage with therapy.
9. Q. What if I don’t like my therapist?
As in all relationships, this is a possibility.
you would be advised to discuss such problems with your treating
therapist because it is possible the difficulties are symptomatic
of your psychological problems, rather than the therapeutic relationship
itself. It would obviously help to be clear about this, before deciding
to move on to another therapist, only to find similar problems there.
10. Q. Why will talking make me feel better?
Talking alone will not necessarily make you feel better.
we cannot have therapy without talking about ourselves, and most
people find some relief in sharing their problems. In CBT through
talking about these issues together, the client and therapist identify
how negative thought patterns are affecting mood and behaviour,
and how to address this. How we think is inextricably linked to
how we feel. For more information on this issue, visit Cognitive
11. Q. How long will it take to feel better?
This will depend on a number of factors, including the severity
of your problem and how long it has been with you.
depends on a number of factors not least the client’s willingness
to engage, and belief in therapy. In some cases, ongoing reminders
of the traumatic event, such as the litigation process, can also
interfere with recovery. A past history of similar psychological
problems might make the recovery period longer but no definitive
answer can be given to this question. The therapist will review
progress with the client at intervals during therapy to be sure
that optimum progress is being made. For mild problems, however,
therapy can usually take place over 6 to 8 weeks, whilst more severe
problems may require 6 to 9 months.